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OWP chairman says closure of partnership 'short sighted'

The chairman of the Oxfordshire Waste Partnership (OWP) has said it is “extremely regrettable” that operations are to be wound up, but the county council has defended the decision to withdraw support for the partnership.

The OWP will close after its contracts are ended or transferred to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and contractual obligations to staff are terminated.

David Dodds

David Dodds (left), Conservative cabinet member for finance, waste and parks at South Oxfordshire District Council and chairman of the OWP, expressed concerns over the impact of the termination on recycling rates and waste and recycling costs.

He said that a decision from the OCC to withdraw its £125,000 contribution to the OWP meant the partnership was no longer viable. The OCC contributed for around 50% of the partnership funding.

Last year, the OWP reported one of the highest recycling rates in the country of 60%, up from 33% in 2006.

A spokesperson for county council said that since the partnership had met its primary objective, the OCC felt it was “an appropriate time” to redirect its funding to support other services.

“The leadership provided by the OWP led to the framework for investment in the collection and disposal of waste that has resulted in the county being one of the best-performing places in the country when it comes to recycling.

“This success means that co-ordination of work on recycling and waste minimisation is now very much ‘business as usual’ for all the local authorities.”

Dodds said the move was “extremely regrettable and short-sighted”.

“It’s like [Olympic champion] Mo Farah having run two successful races and then saying ‘I’m not going to do that anymore I’m going to take up sewing’,” he argued.

He pointed out that in 2011/12 the OCC spent £6m on landfill tax, and that a continuation of the partnership would have helped the council to save on that amount through further recycling and reuse.

The OCC spokesman said the council was aware of Dodds’ views.

Both the OCC and Dodds said the local authorities once part of the partnership – OCC Cherwell District, Oxford City, South Oxfordshire District, Vale of White Horse District and West Oxfordshire councils - will continue to work together informally.

The dismantling of the OWP was announced amid an increasing number of local authorities are merging their collection waste services in a bid to save money. Just last week Cherwell and South Northamptonshire councils announced they will have a single management team.

A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA), one of the largest partnerships in the UK handling around 5% of national municipal waste, declined to comment specifically on OWP, but said: “Working in partnership for the authority allows economies of scale, we have been able to design the systems that reflect urban nature and accommodates all house types in Greater Manchester.”

  • Cheshire East Council is launching its own arms-length waste management company, Ansa Environmental Services.

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